Hydrogenated water, or hydrogen water, is regular water (H2O) that has had hydrogen gas added to it.
Many companies that support hydrogenated water have claimed that the effects of hydrogen molecules provide additional health benefits.
This guide will look in detail at hydrogen water, including what it is, its potential health benefits, and potential risks, helping you to decide whether you should drink hydrogenated water.
Table of Contents
💦 What is Hydrogen Water?
Hydrogen water is pure, plain drinking water with added hydrogen molecules. Hydrogen is a non-toxic gas that has no color or odor.
Water already contains molecular hydrogen (two hydrogen atoms for every one oxygen atom). However, some health companies add extra hydrogen to their water products because of the reported additional benefits.
The theory is that hydrogen bound to oxygen can’t be absorbed by the body as well as hydrogen on its own. The “free” hydrogen atoms added to hydrogenated water are reportedly more easily absorbed, making them more beneficial.
Nutritional Value of Hydrogenated Water
In terms of nutritional value, there is no additional benefit from hydrogenated water. Like pure H20, hydrogenated water contains 0 calories, 0 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fat, and 0 grams of protein.
However, some manufacturers add minerals and vitamins, such as vitamin A, potassium, vitamin C and calcium carbonate, to their hydrogenated products.
🩺 Are There Health Benefits of Hydrogen Water?
In this section, we will review the reported health benefits of hydrogen water. However, these health benefits are based on limited research.
The biggest cause of oxidative stress is free radicals AKA reactive oxygen species.
Free radicals, cause cell damage, leading to oxidative stress, inflammation and disease. Free radicals can also speed up the skin aging process. Molecular hydrogen, which can be found in hydrogen water, can fight free radicals and reduce oxidative stress.
One study by Medical Gas Research, lasting eight weeks, looked at the effects of drinking hydrogenated water in people receiving radiation therapy for liver cancer. In the study, half the participants were drinking hydrogen-rich water every day.
The study found that the participants who had drunk the water containing extra hydrogen gas had more antioxidant activity and reduced oxidative stress compared to those that drank regular water.
This evidence is based on only one study, and more research is needed for us to understand exactly how hydrogen water can affect oxidative stress.
As mentioned previously, free radicals can cause oxidative stress which can lead to inflammation and various diseases. Hydrogenated water has demonstrated its antioxidant properties.
This is beneficial because antioxidants have the capacity to neutralize free radicals, providing a protective effect.
Therefore, the anti-inflammatory properties of hydrogen could reduce the risk of life-threatening diseases such as heart disease.
Reducing Radiation Therapy Side Effects
The same study of 49 patients receiving radiation therapy found that drinking hydrogen-rich water reduced the side effects of the cancer treatment and improved quality of life.
Radiation therapy side effects include nausea, headaches, vomiting, hair loss, skin problems, fatigue, and soreness in the treated area.
This is based on a single study, so it’s hard to know the effects of drinking hydrogen water on quality of life in healthy people and those with chronic disease.
Improving Athletic Performance
Hydrogen water is commonly promoted as a beverage for athletes, with companies claiming that the added hydrogen gas offers a number of energizing benefits.
It’s thought that hydrogen-rich water reduces inflammation by preventing lactate from accumulating in the blood as quickly. Lactate causes muscle fatigue.
One study confirmed that drinking hydrogen water can reduce blood lactate accumulation and delay muscle fatigue. The placebo-controlled study compared two groups of athletes: one group consumed 51 ounces of hydrogen water per day, while the other group drank placebo water.
The findings in this study are similar to another small study, which looked at the effects of the consumption of hydrogen water on male cyclists.
The cyclists who drank 68 ounces of hydrogen water every day were able to maintain peak power output during sprinting for up to 30 minutes, and performed better than the placebo group who drank regular water.
Improving athletic performance is the most scientifically-backed benefit of hydrogen water. However, the two studies still provide limited evidence, and more research is needed to confirm how hydrogen water may boost athletic performance.
May Help People With Metabolic Syndrome
Metabolic syndrome describes a group of conditions – usually obesity, diabetes, and high blood pressure – that occur at once.
People with metabolic syndrome have symptoms including high blood sugar, excess belly fat, high cholesterol, and increased triglyceride levels.
One clinical trial looked at how hydrogen water could improve the health of participants with potential metabolic syndrome. The subjects, who all had signs of this syndrome, drank between 30 and 34 ounces of hydrogen water on a daily basis.
Once the clinical trial came to an end, patients saw significantly increased “good” HDL cholesterol and reduced “bad” LDL and total cholesterol. Hydrogen water also reduced the participants’ inflammatory markers and increased antioxidant activity.
❓ What Are the Risks of Hydrogen Rich Water?
Just as we don’t know much about the benefits of hydrogen water, we also don’t know the risks of this water.
The biggest concern with hydrogen-rich water is that there are currently no global regulations for adding extra extra gas to water, and we don’t know the short- and long-term effects of drinking too much hydrogen in water.
However, we know know that if you over consume water in general this can cause hyponatremia. This occurs because if there is too much water, it’s hard for your kidneys to get rid of it. This causes the sodium concentrations in your blood to decrease which is possibly life-threatening.
🤔 Should I Drink Hydrogen Water?
Our current knowledge regarding hydrogenated water shows promise but remains limited. Consumption of hydrogen water daily could help reduce inflammation and improve athletic performance.
The studies examining hydrogen-rich water on antioxidant activity are particularly interesting. However, there is so little evidence pertaining to these benefits that spending your money on hydrogen water may be a wasted investment.
It’s important to note that hydrogen water is much more expensive compared to plain water, and it remains uncertain whether the health benefits attributed to hydrogen water are independent of overall hydration.
There’s also no difference in taste between normal and hydrogenated water, so there’s no reason to believe that you’ll be more tempted to stay hydrated if you exclusively drink a hydrogen product.
The scientific research on how hydrogen acts as an anti-inflammatory, and its other benefits, is still lacking. Additional research is necessary to establish whether there are any additional benefits compared to plain water.
That being said, if you want to give it a go, check out our top picks for the best hydrogen water machines currently available.
📝 Alternatives to Hydrogenated Water
Hydrogenated water isn’t the only antioxidant-aiding beverage. Green tea and other herbal teas can provide similar qualities, and some electrolyte sports drinks can boost athletic performance.
Just staying hydrated day to day by drinking plain water can provide the positive effects associated with hydration, including improved brain performance, concentration, digestive function and energy levels, and decreased risk of kidney damage.